It sure is a different summer in the Cranberry Isles. Some people have chosen not to come to the islands this summer, considering the risk factors of traveling long distances during a pandemic.
I missed one summer on Islesford, when I was 20, and I still remember what it felt like. No fun. Others have arrived on the islands earlier than usual. Thanks to our high-speed internet, they were able to complete semesters of teaching and take virtual classes while waiting out their 14-day quarantine. They arrived for the long-haul, figuring if you can work from your home, you can work from your island home, too.
I already work from home, so it seemed that the isolating qualities of this pandemic would not impact my work habits. I mean, what jewelry designer couldn’t use a little more studio time? Woo-hoo!
My reaction was the opposite. The more I tried to design and make jewelry, the worse I felt. It rapidly sapped my energy whenever I tried to make it work. On my 67th birthday, after a month of beating myself up for “not getting anything done when I had all the time in the world to do it,” I decided I would give myself the summer off. It could be a tryout retirement, or a five month sabbatical. Whatever I called it, I needed to introduce some joy and rest into my anxious state.
I talked with my friend and neighbor, Mary, about it. It turned out she was going through similar feelings about her job. She, too, needed a break. We mused about having a little farm-type stand on our road to sell bread and baked goods, perhaps one day a week. We both like to bake bread so it seemed like just the kind of fun we were looking for.
We mentioned the idea to a few friends, met in a distanced manner on a Sunday afternoon, and the Bar Road Market was born. We decided to try Thursdays from noon to 2 p.m. and we could reassess at any time. Though the mosquitoes have not yet been bad, we considered them in the timing of the market. They show up in the shade by 3 p.m., and as our friend Jasmine said, “those Bar Road mosquitos are no joke!”
As of this writing we’ve only had the market twice. We had seven sellers the first Thursday, and eight last week. Our motto is “no two weeks the same!” We are celebrating the unpredictability from week to week.
The variety of items from the last two markets has included: breads, English muffins, scones, doughnuts, cookies, brownies, whoopie pies, whole pies, lettuces, flower bouquets, herbs, artwork, granola, crackers, hummus, boursin cheese, cloth face masks, recycled tote bags, and oyster accessories and T-shirts.
Most baked goods sell out quickly. Mary also uses the market time to take bread orders from people for the following week. As the season moves along we expect to have more produce available.
A few vendors are passing along some of their proceeds to various non-profit organizations. So far, the Islesford Neighborhood House, the Indigo Arts Alliance, and the Somali Bantu Community Association have benefitted. They are all organizations in Maine.
I don’t think anyone is looking to make much money with a two-hour market once a week, but we are having fun and trying to spread some good energy around. We are also not exclusive. We welcome anyone who wants to come and set up their own table to join us. People are usually setting up around 11:30 a.m.
My husband, Bruce, has been saying all spring he wants to try making doughnuts. The Bar Road Market is just the nudge he needs to make it a reality. He sees what fun looks like in this summer of masks and distance, because it’s happening right in his front yard.
Barbara Fernald lives on Islesford (Little Cranberry Island).